SILVER CREEK TOWNSHIP.
Silver Creek township is adjacent to the city of Freeport, and is consequently a section of considerable importance
from every standpoint. It is bounded on the north by the Pecatonica River, on the east by Ridott township, on the
west by Florence township, and on the south by Ogle county. The township is somewhat larger than the surveyors'
customary thirty six square miles, owing to the extensive curves of the Pecatonica River. All told the township
embraces twenty two thousand and sixty nine acres of land, or about thirty seven and a half square miles.
The township is well supplied with water. Yellow Creek courses across the northwestern corner of Silver Creek and
flows into the Pecatonica two or three miles east of Freeport. Yellow Creek is joined on its way by three smaller
creeks, all of which rise within Silver Creek township, and the Pecatonica is joined by one inconsiderable stream
which rises in the southern part of Ridott township, flows into Silver Creek, and thence north through the eastern
part of the township to the river.
Three railroads cross Silver Creek township: the Illinois Central, with two branches, the main line crossing the
extreme northern portion from west to east, and the south branch traversing the town from north to south, from
Freeport to Baileyville; the Chicago and Great Western which crosses the central part of the township from east
to west; and the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul, which crosses the northwestern corner and then proceeds into
The roads are good and the school and church facilities of Silver Creek are particularly excellent. The proximity
of the township to Freeport has made the growth of any large town an impossibility, and the section is devoid of
settlements except for a tiny one at South Freeport, a station at Dunbar, and the outlying sections of Baiteyville,
whose postoffice is in Ogle county.
The first permanent settlement in Silver Creek township was made in August, 1835, by Thomas Craine, who took up
a claim in the southwest corner of the township, built a log cabin, and made a home for his family, which consisted
of a wife and three children. In the fall of the same year, Augustus Bonner settled on section 34, near the mouth
of Yellow Creek. However the land did not belong to him, and, during the winter of 1836, he relinquished the claim
and the cabin which he built upon it to the rightful owner, Thomas Covet He himself went on farther west.
In the spring of 1836, a large number of new settlers arrived, Charles Walker, F. D. Builceley, a Mr. Hammand,
and, in the fall of the same year, Sidney Stebbins, Joel Baker, Loran Snow and a Mrs. Brown. Of these, Charles
Walker was a notorious character, and his subsequent history was particularly interesting. It seems that he was
employed by Thomas Caine, the pioneer settler, to tutor his children, at the salary of $75 a quarter. It was a
mere pittance, of course, and evidently Walker did not think that it was enough to meet his needs, for he began
to employ his spare moments in the profitable enterprise of horse stealing. Unfortunately, his career was short
lived. He was soon caught, and sent to the penitentiary at Alton.
The next year was a fallow period in Silver Creek's development. Settlers came in large numbers to other portions
of Stephenson County, but very few to Silver Creek. In 1837 Seth Scott settled here, near Craine's Grove, Hiram
Hill, at a point on Yellow Creek, Major John Howe, west of Craine's Grove, I. Forbes, in the extreme eastern portion,
on the old Stage Road near the Ridott town line. Two deaths occurred in 1837, those of Thomas Milburn and a man
named Reed, who were drowned while attempting to cross the Pecatonica River. These were the first recorded deaths
in Silver Creek Township. Reed, according to tradition, had only arrived in the township a few months previous.
John Milburn arrived in 1837, and in 1838 John Walsh, John and Thomas Warren, the latter of whom settled northeast
of Craine's Grove, Isaac Scott, Samuel Liebshitz, Christian Strockey, Christian Strockey, Jr. Frederick Strockey,
Chauncey Stebbins, and others, all of whom made their claims in the extreme eastern part of the township. And so
it continued for about five years more. ' No one ventured into the western part of the township, whether from ignorance
of the fertility of the land or from some other motive will probably never be known In 1839 another delegation
The '39-ers included Jacob Hoebel, A. Gund, Valentine Stoskopf, Jacob Shoup, Jacob Bartell, D. E. Pattee, "Jock"
Pattee, and others, among them a man named Judkins. Shortly after the arrival of this delegation, Mrs. "Jock"
Pattee committed suicide by hanging herself to a tree in the eastern part of the township on Gallows Hill.
In the summer of 1838 the first birth in the township occurred. The distinguished infant was Jacob Thompson, the
son of William and Lucinda Thompson. Nearly three years later the first marriage in Silver Creek was solemnized,
that of Frederick Baker and Miss A. Craine. Miss Craine was a daughter of Thomas Craine, and the wedding ceremony
was performed at her father's residence by Squire Thomas. The date is said to have been February 11, 1841.
From that time fonvard the township began to settle up. Two years later, in 1843, a large number of settlements
were made in the western part of Silver Creek, that hitherto neglected portion of Stephenson County. Ever since,
Silver Creek has been one of the wealthiest and most populous townships of the county. Many of the early settlers
were Germans, a thritfy and desirable class of citizens, who have ever since predominated in the annals of Silver
South Freeport, formerly known as Dunbar, is the Freeport station of the Chicago & Great Western Railroad.
It is located at the point where the railroad approaches nearest to Freeport, and consists merely of railroad buildings
- the passenger and freight offices, with their atached buildings. A few houses have sprung up in the vicinity,
formerly a tiny settlement, but there is no store or postoffice, and the population of the whole village, if it
can be called a village, does not exceed twenty or twenty five inhabitants.
When the Great Western originally surveyed its line through Stephenson County, much dissatisfaction was felt because
the railroad did not intend to enter Freeport. The directors of the line received a great many petitions from Freeport
people, but nothing served to alter their course. When the line was finished, however, they did condescend to build
the old "Dunbar" station near the point where their tracks crossed the south branch of the Illinois Central.
The name was subsequently changed to "South Freeport." The station is connected with Freeport by a stage
line. Stages leave the Rest Room, at the corner of Van Buren and Exchange Streets, in time to connect with the
various Great Western trains. A short time ago automobiles were substituted for the stages, but they are now doing
service elsewhere, and the South Freeport traffic is again via stage line.
Dunbar is no longer a village. At one time there were prospects for the establishment and building of a prosperous
country village, but the proximity of the place to Freeport, and the unsatisfactory nature of the site precluded
any such possibility. There is now only a railway platform along the side of the tracks and a sign board to denote
the place where Dunbar might have been. A declining spur connects the Illinois Central tracks with those of the
Great Western. A few hundred feet south of Dunbar is the Oakdale Campmeeting Ground of the Evangelical Association.
Baileyville proper is not in Stephenson County, but is located for the greater part in Ogle County. A northern
addition, however, known as Knapp's Addition, extends into Silver Creek Township. It is said that plans were once
made to remove the Baileyville postoffice from Ogle to Stephenson County, and transfer the business section of
the town thither. Extensive plans were immediately made for the establishment of a village, but for some reason
none of them ever materialized. Obviously it was altogether impossible to try to found a village where there was
no natural reason for its existence, and where no settlers wished to take up their abode. Thus the experiment was
a gloomy failure, and Stephenson County suffered the loss of a possible additional village to its already large
quota of settlements. The village of Baileyville today embraces about one hundred inhabitants, a dozen or more
of whom live in Silver Creek Township.